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  • David Malvinni

OLD VERSUS NEW VIOLINS

Updated: Nov 8, 2018

One of the questions we frequently get asked is whether to purchase an antique (one 40 years or older) or a new (one made in the last few years/decades) violin.

When considering what type of instrument to buy, here are some things to consider:

1. expected return on the violin: is it an investment, or is it primarily a daily player? An older violin with a sought-after provenance or maker will appreciate faster than a newer one.

2. durability: if you live in a dry place, a newer violin might be the best choice--properly humidified, it can last indefinitely with proper care.

3. sound: this is often described as a subjective category; in blind tests, modern violins can prove superior to Stradivarius or Guarnerius ones. But if sound is your primary concern, then compile a list of adjectives that describe best what quality of sound you are looking for: deep/dark, powerful/bright, chocolatey/smooth, and so on. Older violins, generally, are sought after because of their rich, deep, ringing overtones. However, remember that after a relatively short break-in period, a new violin that is well played can open up to these very same qualities; furthermore, note that an older violin fitted with a brand-new bridge or sound post, or after a neck reset, will also have to undergo a new break-in period.

A new setup will impact the sound of an old violin.

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